News release

Date: 11th May 2012

Will 40% of London businesses have employees sleeping in the office during the Olympics?

Global Action Plan found out that 69% of businesses in the capital believe that the games will cause significant or medium travel disruption and have published a ten-point plan to help businesses improve efficiency, save money and reduce environmental impact.

London, 11 May 2012 - Global Action Plan, a UNEP-supported charity for environmental behaviour change, found out that 69% of businesses in the capital believe that the games will cause significant or medium travel disruption, yet fewer businesses have a plan for how to respond. Global Action Plan has published a ten-point plan to help businesses improve efficiency, save money and reduce environmental impact.

Global Action Plan researchers found out that 41% of research respondents do not have a strategic approach to cutting travel costs and emissions. With the games set to impose difficulties in staff getting to and from work, delivering supplies and meeting with clients, the event presents a golden opportunity to change travel behaviour, even after the games.

The capital and businesses will have to deal with unprecedented travel demand: 5.3 million expected visitors will likely create 855,000 games-related trips . Yet businesses face barriers in creating better travel plans, which include inadequate technology and lack of senior leadership. Global Action Plan’s report, the result of nine months of research, shows that through innovative approaches to travel, businesses have the opportunity to change people’s work and travel patterns, improving their bottom line and helping them cut carbon emissions.

The Global Action Plan report reveals that
• 66% of companies are assessing the option of flexible working; however only 25% are looking to ensure IT systems are prepped for this challenge
• Only 17% of companies in London indicated that they would use the games as an opportunity to change employee travel habits
• Very few organisations have tried to actively engage their employees to reduce travel: 76% have never tried using incentives and 80% have never tried carbon budgets
• Among large organisations, only 13% are significantly collaborating with suppliers to reduce travel
• Only 57% of organisations provide time and carbon comparisons to their employees, which would enable them to make informed travel choices
Global Action Plan CEO Trewin Restorick said:
“UK businesses spend £17.5 billion per year on business travel , and that’s escalating all the time. Yet 76% of companies have never tried even simple incentives to reduce travel. Improving travel efficiency will save businesses money and increase competitiveness. The Olympics are a once-in-a-generation opportunity to encourage employees to travel differently.”

Notes to Editors
For further information contact Stephanie Walker, Marketing Manager, on 020 7420 4443,, mobile: 077 4210 4714.

Global Action Plan’s Ten Point Plan
Global Action Plan’s extensive research looks at how businesses can minimise disruption during the Olympics and change travel behaviour long term. Based on our findings we have created a ten-point plan to help businesses improve efficiency, save money and reduce environmental impact.

Rule 1 Disruption equals opportunity
Past Olympic events have proved that large-scale events can be an opportunity to challenge the status quo on travel. 12 years ago in Sydney, the Olympic games resulted in 24% of Sydney employees changing their working hours and 22% worked remotely during the games.

Only 17% of companies indicated that they would use the Games as an opportunity to change employee travel habits. Will they be missing out?

Rule 2 Create a different culture
Ask the question: “Do you really need to travel?” Get your employees to “apply for” rather than “book” their travel, and set up a travel decision tree. Never underestimate the power of cultural cues.

82% of our respondents had never tried to use competition as an engagement tool and 76% have never incentivised or rewarded sustainable travel. But these are keys to changing behaviour.

Imaginative organizations can reap benefits The Lake District National Park Authority reduced carbon emissions from travel by 28%, in part by setting team targets, providing quarterly feedback of progress and offering prizes, all of which fostered a sense of collective responsibility.

Rule 3 Time for a logistical re-think?
One key travel challenge will be to get supplies delivered and maintenance done. Is this where your innovation can come from?

Sainsbury’s has developed first response mopeds designed to get engineers to stores rapidly to deal with maintenance problems in their stores. It’s a more efficient and less carbon intensive way to get employees from A to B and if successful, Sainsbury's will extend the idea to all stores within the M25.

Rule 4 Do you remember the first time?
Whether it is virtual meetings, car-sharing, cycling or using public transport, the first experience counts. Many employees don’t use video conferencing facilities because their first experience of it was poor.

Telefónica O2 have set up a network of collaboration gurus from around the business who act as local champions, telling colleagues what technology is available to them and the benefits it can bring, and providing local support to anybody experiencing problems.

Rule 5 ‘Walk the Walk’
Credible and visible support from senior managers is essential. Yet 77% of respondents had never identified and promoted senior sponsors to “Walk the Walk.”

Sign-off from senior management is insufficient if they if they proceed to openly flout the policy. As one survey respondent said: ‘We had a no domestic flights initiative, which was discredited because senior people within the business were quite visibly ignoring it and flying‘.

To bring senior management on message, you must understand what motivates them. Knowing how fond directors are of their cars, one CSR manager arranged a trip to test-drive electric cars. One director loved the experience so much; he is now pushing for an electric car pool.

Rule 6 Flexibility is not just for gymnasts
Check that your IT is up to it. Our research indicates that the most popular solution being considered by businesses is to allow more flexible working: 65% of companies are assessing this idea. Rather worryingly, only a quarter of them are looking to ensure that IT systems can cope with this significant change.

Businesses can only push flexible working if their technology can withstand this change in working habits. In February 2012, in preparation for the potential disruption caused by the Olympics, Telefónica O2 successfully tested its ICT infrastructure by closing down the entire head office in Slough for one day.

Rule 7 Impact counts
Measuring travel impact is only useful if the data is used intelligently. Travel data broken down to a team or even individual level can be a powerful motivational tool. Use it to tell a story, to feed back to employees on progress and to thank them when they have helped the business to improve.

For example, an organisation with 8,000 employees and an annual travel expense of £15M found that by using CloudApps SuMo – an employee engagement technology that embodies social networking, game mechanics and mobility - they were able to drive the following results.

• 9% (£1.35M) reduction in overall annual travel expense costs
• 27,000 hour efficiency gain achieved by finding alternatives to business travel
• 10% reduction in annual carbon footprint

Employees using SuMo showed significant changes in behaviour, generating 25% reduction in taxi use, 15% reduction in mileage claims, and 6% reduction in flights. A control group of employees who were not using CloudApps SuMo saw their travel footprint and costs actually increase by 2.1%.

Rule 8 Hit the target
45% of our survey respondents had never targeted messages at those who travel the most. But it gets results. Aim messages at those who book travel (like PAs) who are frequent travellers or who are known to be the early tech adopters.

One leading consultancy worked with assistants and PAs who did the actual travel booking. By showing them that journey times can be comparable, and that train journeys can be productive, they were able to change behaviour. Consultants didn’t mind as long as they arrived on time.

Rule 9 Get collaborative
Among large organisations, only 6% are significantly collaborating with clients to reduce travel and13% are significantly collaborating with suppliers. Make an agreement with your key clients and suppliers to set boundaries and incentives to reduce travel.

Repeatedly businesses told us that any agreement to reduce project travel by meeting virtually would only be initiated by the client. The financial benefits to both parties are clear and many businesses will have mutual, publically-stated carbon reduction commitments which can begin the conversation.

Rule 10 Plan beyond 2012
There is no magic wand to changing an organisation’s travel culture. What is required are patience, persistence and sound planning. Make sure that whatever you implement before the Olympics has staying power.

Companies rush into buying expensive equipment without understanding the problem. Successful organisations took the time to understand the barriers and remove them. With persistence, travel routines changed and new habits form.

About the Global Action Plan research
The findings in this report are based on a 9 month research project carried out by Global Action Plan bringing together learnings from over 150 organisations, ranging from multinational corporations to local SMEs, local authorities and charities. We combined desk research and discussion groups to help us define the focus of the research and used surveys and telephone interviews to help us understand what does and doesn’t work with sustainable travel. The research is published in the report “Business in Motion: Travelling Less, Travelling Differently”. To find out more about the research, go to

About Global Action Plan
Global Action Plan is the UK’s leading environmental behaviour change organisation and, since 1993, has helped businesses, schools, and communities reduce their carbon footprint to positively impact on the environment and climate change. Global Action Plan consistently achieves significant environmental and financial savings in the UK by empowering people to take action on energy, waste, water and transport and reach their sustainability goals. Global Action Plan is the only charity in the UK to be supported by the United Nations Environment Programme.

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